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Blue Door County

November 8, 2020

There were plenty of reasons to smile on election night in Wisconsin. One of the moments that brought a cheer from this home was seeing the news report that Door County, long deep Red and conservative, had again flipped Blue. Having lived there while working in radio, and serving as Democratic County Chair in the mid-80s meant that even though there was angst to be found in other places around the nation I found genuine pleasure in the land of fish boils.

Door County had seen the light in 2008 and 2012 when it supported Barack Obama, but turned wild in 2016 when it threw its votes to Donald Trump. But knowing that the trend lines in the county were shaped by new arrivals over the years and they are becoming more socially aware with a diverse population meant I had hope going into the election. But as we know hope and reality are very different things when ballots are counted.

Living in Sturgeon Bay, and spending lots of time in the northern parts of the county where sunsets and incredible lake breezes made for fond memories, also allowed me insight into how conservative the peninsula truly was. I heard from friends who grew up there that no one with a liberal view expressed it in church or on a bowling league without being aware that a loss of friends and being slighted was a very real outcome.

I was not concerned about living there for decades so I joined up with the local Democratic Party–small though it was–wrote letters to the editor of the paper and was not shy about supporting the principles of the party. That upfront energy in time allowed for my being elected as chairman of the party. We had a great membership that knew uphill slogging in local elections had to be undertaken again and again.

So I was truly pleased this past week when Door County voted for Joe Biden with 49.93% of the vote (10,044). The loser, Donald Trump received 48.48% and (9,752). It was not a landslide, but it was a win.

Dorothy Mosgaller, one of the 1960 Kennedy voters, a long-time activist, and a staunch advocate on my behalf, would have smiled and in her soft voice say, ‘This is what happens if you just keep plugging along’.

She is absolutely correct.

The local businesses have no problem taking cash from Chicago liberals who vacation in the county. But when it comes to accepting their responsibility for electing people who will shape more inclusive social policy, equitable taxation, and fighters for climate change legislation they are absent.

So it is up to the new arrivals who over the decades have infiltrated ‘the locals’ and bring their voting patterns with them that will move the county forward. As 2008, 2012, and this past week demonstrates.

And so it goes.

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